Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Netflix Adds (Some of) Relativity's Movies to Its Streaming Catalog

Netflix is set to announce a new deal with Hollywood production shop Relativity Media, which will give it streaming rights to some of the movies Relativity works on.

Is this a big deal? Sharon Waxman, who broke the news tonight, thinks so, arguing that it positions Netflix as a bona-fide competitor with the likes of Time Warner’s HBO (TWX) for online movie rights. Waxman’s rival Nikki Finke pooh-poohs the pact.

Feels weird to type this, but I’m with Finke on this one. But not for the reason she states–that Relativity makes lots of stinkers. Unless I’m missing something, the bigger problem is that Relativity doesn’t have the licensing and distribution rights to many of the biggest movies it puts out. Those go to Sony, Warner Bros, Universal, etc.

Still, Waxman is on to something here–Netflix does want to gather streaming rights to as many movies as it can, as it transitions from a DVD rental service to one that rents out bits.

That doesn’t mean it’s likely to challenge HBO et al. for the biggest and most expensive catalogs out there. And Netflix is still going to have make subscriber-unfriendly deals like the one it made with Warner Bros. if it wants access to their stuff. But it will be able to pick up a few titles here and there. And over time, those can add up.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik